Endangered: The Art of Community Living
Community living is now a dying practice. ‘We’ is now getting replaced by ‘Me’. It’s not been a sudden over-night phenomenon. It’s gradually befallen us as we began to move towards a self-consuming lifestyle. I remember growing up in a building where evenings meant times for playing in the compound with the other kids my age, summer holidays meant time for all the mothers to be beleaguered by a bunch of noisy kids late into the nights and one did not have to worry about finding text books for the next academic year since a willing ‘senior’ among us had them all ready to be picked up from his/her place. As a six year old I remember running from door to door waiting for everyone to appreciate the new me each time I wore a new dress. Plucking flowers and making garlands out of them and then getting our dolls married were the annual events marked out in our annual calendars. Perhaps, the annual exams were the only lean periods around then.
Such camaraderie extended even between our mothers. We would often serve as courier boys/girls to send a share of those special dishes to the auntie next-door. The mothers would be often seen gossiping by the doors while we brought the roof down any given evening. Each of us had a ‘best friend’.
However, this art of community living is now conspicuous in its absence. Today the kids are more fascinated with the latest version of online games than outdoor games. Mothers would rather that their children learnt French or tennis than ‘waste’ time playing with the other kids. We always feel a severe time-crunch and leisure is precious. Hence, there is a maid to do the clothes, another to water the plants, a third to wash the clothes and yet another to collect them once they’ve dried. It’s smart to order-in rather than consult one’s neighbor to learn how that baked dish could be made. It’s a convenient life alright but we’ve chosen to withdraw into a shell. We love our fences more than our neighbors.
This may not give you the universal picture. But this is a change which I have sensed (and painfully so) every now and then. Just the other day we were making potato chips at home and realized that now it were only my mother and I who dried the wafers while as kids, there would be atleast half-a dozen kids to help out.
Here’s hoping that we revert to the good ol’ ways very soon…maybe this recipe could serve as ‘starters’. It’s as much fun to make them with everyone as to eat them!
My Mom-Made Potato Chips (‘cos of obvious copyright reason)
What you need:
3 kgs Chandramukhi Potatoes (These are a special variety but are available widely)
Salt – as per taste
Oil for frying
Chilli powder to spice ‘em up
How to make it:
Wash, peel and slice the potatoes using a slicer. Fill up a bucket with water and add about 2 big spoons of salt to it. Soak the potato chips as soon as you slice them.
In a container bring about 4 glasses of water to boil. Make sure its bubbling hot. Immerse the potato slices in them for about 2 minute so that they are just about boiled partly and aren’t totally raw.
Spread out a sheet of plastic or an old sari in a place which gets the maximum sunlight in your house. Spread out the chips and let them dry. Make sure that the chips get a good deal of the sunshine on the first day. Collect the chips post sundown and set them out again for another 3-4 days. Once dried, they become tiny, transparent pieces.
Fry them and sprinkle some chilli powder on top. Store in an air-tight container and munch on at your own sweet will!